We recently had the chance to speak with Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Play Airlines, who discussed his entrepreneurial journey, his thoughts on PLAY’s Canadian expansion, the benefits that travellers will experience in light of the commemoration of the first flights from Canada, popular European destinations tourists can visit without going over their trip budget, beginning of the first airline flights from Canada to Europe, and its pay-what-you-need business model.
Birgir Jónsson is CEO of Play Airlines. He has extensive experience in international management and operations. He was Ossur’s Regional Director in Asia, based in Hong Kong, CEO of Iceland Express and later Deputy CEO of WOW air. He lived and worked in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, where he was CEO of Infopress Group, one of the largest printing companies in Eastern Europe. He was CEO of Iceland Post and has also been involved in many projects in the field of restructuring and transformation across a diverse range of industries.
Birgir holds an MBA from the University of Westminster in London and a BA (Hons) from the University of the Arts London.
How will you describe your journey with an extensive experience in international management and operations, having served at senior positions in various organizations?
That is right, I´ve been around the world serving various positions. I was a regional director for Össur in Asia, based in Hong Kong, CEO of Iceland Express and the Iceland Post and lived in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. This experience has taught me a lot about workplace spirit and how it is important to get the team chemistry right to maximize the company´s potential. And I think the results of that are showing. We were awarded the Start up of the year at Capa Awards last year and the Satisfactory Scale in Iceland. So, the industry and our passengers are noticing the good work being done at PLAY.
What are your thoughts on the Canadian expansion of PLAY’s services?
We’re proud to expand PLAY service to Canada with service in Hamilton, offering both Canadian and European travellers a new way to reach iconic destinations. With our reliable and affordable flights, Travellers can spend less on their flight tickets and enjoy more of their destination.
And what are the advantages that travellers will enjoy in view of the commemoration of the first flights from Canada?
To celebrate PLAY’s inaugural flights from Canada, we are offering travellers tickets for as low as $169 to 13 destinations across Europe, including Berlin Brandenburg (BER), Brussels (BRU), Copenhagen (CPH), Dublin (DUB), Gothenburg Landvetter (GOT), London Stansted (STN), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and to Keflavik (KEF) for only $129. This deal is valid for the Canadian departing flight of a roundtrip booking for flights scheduled between August and October 2023. The $129 and 169 price is inclusive of all mandatory taxes, fees and carrier charges, and is available from January 10-31 at midnight Eastern Time.
What popular European destination may tourists visit without going over their trip budget, in your opinion, when the first airline flights from Canada to Europe will begin in the summer of 2023?
The first flight from Canada to Europe will be on June 22, 2023. We will operate daily flights to and from Hamilton every week the whole year round.
For as low as $169, Canadian travellers can fly to popular destinations such as London, Paris, Dublin, Liverpool, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Brussels, Athens, Copenhagen, Billund, Aarhus and Aalborg. Only destinations that have direct connectivity with our Hamilton flights are covered under the special promotion.
How many people have flown on PLAY flights since its inception?
In 2022, PLAY flew 800,000 passengers across Europe and North America with an on-time arrival rate over 96%.
What exactly is its pay-what-you-need business model?
At PLAY, we run on a “pay-for-what-you-need” model which keeps our fares affordable. A personal item is included for the flight, and passengers can choose which upgrades they need for their trip, such as a carry-on, checked bag, special bags for items such as golf sets, skis, strollers, and musical instruments, seats with extra legroom, cancellation protection and more.
What sets PLAY apart from other big airlines?
In 2022, PLAY recorded a World class punctuality with an on-time performance for the full year was at 87%, so you can be sure of that if you book a flight with PLAY, our record shows that we are reliable, safe and on time. We have the most modern fleet in Europe, with 10 Airbus A320/321neo´s and 4 of them are brand new ones right out of the Airbus factory in Toulouse in France. Our oldest model is from 2017.
We give customers the option to pay for the services they want to use. Passengers can add extra services themselves through the MyPLAY portal, whether checked baggage, seat selection, or more.